Have you noticed we’ve come to glamorize entrepreneurship? It’s as if simply being an entrepreneur has magically endowed you with superpowers for starting, scaling and growing businesses.
Anyone who has ever struggled with actually starting, growing and running a business knows that it’s not as glamorous in the trenches as it looks to the outside world.
This is why I was thrilled when I heard small business experts Rieva Lesonsky and Barry Moltz had teamed up to put together Small Business Hacks: 100 Shortcuts to Success.
What is Small Business Hacks About?
One of the first things that you have to love about the book is that it delivers exactly what the title says “100 shortcuts to success”.
Basically, what you’re going to get here is a compiled list of the top 100 challenges small business owners face and how to overcome them. Each hack is authored by an expert in a particular area of business and each hack follows a general outline that isn’t predictable or boring.
Putting the Hacks to the Test
To review these hacks, I decided to pick a couple of them at random. First, I’d look for a hack I knew something about and see what their advice was and then I thought I’d pick a hack in an area I knew nothing about to see what they said and if I understood the advice even if I wasn’t an expert in that field.
I started from the back of the book and instantly found this one:
“How to Get Rid of Toxic Customers” — which is hack #98.
In a single page you learn the tell-tale signs you’ve got a toxic customer, and the advice to get rid of them is brilliant and clearly comes from someone who has been through the process at least a few times:
“The first step is to identify potential prospects that can replace the problem customer. Start phasing out the ‘red’ customer when these additional clients come on board. Next, show the toxic customers other ‘options for their needs’ by telling them they would be happier with another business (even a competitor). Finally, set an internal date for when you’ll no longer be willing to do business with them.
After the toxic customer is fired, it is also important not to permit your employees to discuss them. It is just gossip and serves no business purpose. And, there’s always the danger of this information getting back to the customers, especially in our social media world.”
My analysis as someone who has also been there, done that and had to control our company reputation… spot on! I don’t think I’ve ever seen such great advice that is clear and covers all the salient points without going into too much detail about it.
Well, that’s fine, given I’m a sales and marketing person and am pretty familiar with how that goes. Now I’m looking for a quick piece of advice in an area that I know NOTHING about.
I landed on “Compensating your staff” which is Hack #79. I know very little about this topic. I know jargon even less and I’m looking to see if these success hacks are good enough to help small business owners in areas where they feel insecure about their level of expertise.
The expert who contributed this hack, Erica Morrison, Chief People Officer at Brandify, dedicated about three pages to this one. This hack included a step by step process that gave you context and a way of thinking about employees. She also included resources you could use for research and finally some “insider” advice you could only know if you’d failed. She called those “pro tips.” Here’s one I really liked:
“Pro Tip. Discover your employee’s personal goals, this will keep you up to date on how to surprise and support them from seed to blossom.”
The compilation of this book was a team effort between Lesonsky, Moltz and a variety of small business experts.
Lesonsky comes from a family of small business owners, has been the editor of Entrepreneur Magazine and currently shares her small business expertise on SmallBizDaily. And Moltz is an author, serial entrepreneur and considers himself an expert in getting small businesses unstuck.
What Was Best About Small Business Hacks?
You Can’t Read Just One
You can tell Small Business Hacks: 100 Shortcuts to Success was written by business owners for business owners. How? Well, for one thing, it’s 100 awesome hacks packed into just about 300 pages. That’s just about 2-3 pages per hack! Even the busiest business owner has time to cover at least a few hacks a day or to simply turn to the chapter covering the problem they’d like to solve.
It’s a time and anxiety saver because you don’t have to read it from cover to cover. I do have to admit reading this book was a lot like eating potato chips. I’d set out to only read one, but I’d start reading another and another. It’s addicting.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
Like so many small business owners, this book is practical, to the point and has very few bells and whistles. So, if you’re looking for pictures or charts or a long appendix of worksheets, you will not get them here.
Personally, I think cluttering up the book with additional resources would actually detract from the overall strength of the content — that it is short and simple.
Why Read Small Business Hacks?
This is a book every small business owner should have within arm’s reach. I have it as a PDF on my computer and have actually referenced it a few times, just to get my bearings.
While you won’t find high-minded theory or a lot of data, you will find astoundingly simple and practical advice with solid guidance and direction on what to do, where to go and who to talk to. Quite frankly, it’s all any small business owner needs.